An Open Letter to a Critic

by Rod Davis No religion, just Jesus

The following is my attempt to answer a young man’s post where he was blaming the woes of the world on Christians and religion in general.

Nick,

I would like to address a couple of points that you’ve offered.

First, I appreciate the friendly spirit in which you voice your opinions. I love a good lively debate as long at it is done respectfully and you have done that. Thank you for your sensitivity.

I have no time to indulge in name-calling and the nonsensical chatter of fools. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverb 23:9 says, “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” In scripture, Nick, a fool is someone who is misguided because they are ignoring God’s Word. Like I said, I love a lively debate as long as it is done respectfully. I believe it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Now on to the discussion:

You made the statement that Christians hold the majority in America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, you may be correct in the sense that the majority of Americans may claim to be Christians, but just saying that you’re something doesn’t make it so. I can run up and down the streets of my neighborhood barking at mailmen, chasing cars, drinking out of toilets and urinating on trees, but that doesn’t make me a dog. Just because one calls one’s self a Christian doesn’t necessarily make it a fact. I could tell you that I’m a black man. However, if you were to meet me face to face you would clearly see that I’m your basic white guy. Just saying that I’m something doesn’t make it so.

The same is true for many who call themselves Christians. Jesus said, “By their fruit [the products of their lifestyle] you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16) One may go through all the motions of doing something of a religious nature and trying to live a moral life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.

This encounter—being born again—will be evidenced by the righteous fruit one’s life produces. Jesus said that thornbushes do not produce grapes. They produce thorns. Grape vines grow grapes. I can point at a thornbush and keep calling it a grape vine until I’m blue in the face. It would still be a thornbush. Jesus said that one’s fruit is the test. The good fruit that one bears—love, joy, peace, the willingness tell other about Jesus—will prove conclusively that they’ve had a true born again experience with Christ.

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day [Judgment Day], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) It’s not how religious we think we are or how many good deeds we can perform. Just saying that one is a Christian that does not makes us one. One must have a sincere relationship with Christ that starts by surrendering your life to him and asking him for forgiveness of your sins.

So, apparently, it is much more than just religious hyperactivity that identifies one as a Christian in God’s eyes. To imply, as you did, that Hitler was a Christian or even that the crusaders were Christians plays into the dog analogy given earlier.

As far as Christians holding the majority in America, George Barna, head of Barna Research, stated that according to his research “America has more unchurched people than the entire population of all but 11 of the 194 nations.” He further stated, “About one out of four adults (24%) lean primarily upon religious principles and teaching or Bible content when making moral decisions.” Then he went on to say, “While many religious leaders propose that the Bible should be the basis of people’s morality, the survey showed that only four out of every ten born again adults relies upon the Bible or church teachings as their primary source of moral guidance. The percentage who identify the Bible or religious teaching as their dominant moral influence is noticeably lower among Catholics (16%) and attenders of mainline Protestant churches (25%).” [Barna Research -9/11/01] Now, I’m sure that you would agree that this hardly constitutes a majority of genuine Christians in America.

The next point I want to address is the notion that it is detrimental for Christians to be in charge of the government, that there is the risk of them not allowing religious freedom to others of a different faith. Nick, this nation was unquestionably founded on the principles of The Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first American colonies were formed by those who wanted religious freedom. Bear this in mind; the freedom that they were seeking wasn’t to be free from the persecution of non-believers. They were fleeing the religious persecution from The Church of England! These early American Christians were trying to get away from religious people who claimed that they were Christians but displayed fruit to the contrary. Again, remember the “dog” analogy.

Anywhere that the influence of true Christianity abounds is the only place where real religious freedom is enjoyed. Jesus called us “the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13) Salt does basically two things: it preserves and it enhances flavor. This nation rose to the place of the only world supper-power because of the founding Biblical principles that were used to established this nation. Every major university in the nation, such as Yale and Harvard, were founded by Christians and started out as Bible schools. In fact, our Constitution was built on Biblical principles.

For you to make a statement like, “Hey, what’s wrong with ungodly rule anyway?” is beyond ludicrous. Every nation in the world that is ruled by ungodly men is in the troughs of civil war, poverty and famine. Take Haiti for example. In 1914 its people dedicated it to Satan. It now has the highest poverty level of any nation in the western hemisphere. It has 80% unemployment. For the few who do find jobs, the average income is $300 a year! They have a 50% death rate for children 5 and under. Parents literally put their children on the streets because they can’t feed them and the cities are overrun with homeless children. Many of them as young as 6 years old! And you ask, “What’s wrong with ungodly rule?”!!!

There is an expression that says, “Christians are not perfect—just forgiven.” I don’t claim to be without fault. Genuine Christians are still human and make mistakes from time to time. Any true believer in Christ will testify that it’s a daily struggle to serve our Lord and do our best to obey him in hopes of being a good example of a real Christian to those around us. However, we know that, as the salt of the earth, it’s up to us to help preserve it and help enhance life by getting involved in our communities. It’s up to true Christians to set a loving example for society to follow. That is to know Christ and to daily walk with him. It’s up to us, true followers of Christ, to set an example by sharing the GOOD NEWS about Jesus to those around us. It’s up to us to help preserve our freedoms by praying for our nation’s leaders and voting for honorable, godly people to lead us.

You are right when you say, “The leaders of the Al Quada are religious. The leaders of the crusade were religious. The formers of the Spanish Inquisition were religious.” And “Most of the fighting in the Middle East is caused by religion.” The key word here, Nick, is “religious”. The world is full of people who know their religion, but they don’t personally know the true God or their lives would be full of love, joy and tolerance for others.

Let me clue you into something. GOD IS NOT RELIGIOUS… HE’S RELATIONAL! God’s into people and having a relationship with them. That’s why God sent Jesus to show us that we could have a personal relationship with him. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. He died in order to pay for the penalty of our sinfulness and, thus, make it possible for us to have a friendship with Holy God. WOW!

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit… (1Peter 3:18)

You see, Nick. God hates vain, empty religion more than you and I do. Religion, not true Christianity, has caused most of the world’s woes. Terrorism, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the holocaust are a direct result of misguided people who were dedicated to their religion but not to the true God. Consider these words that God said about religious people, “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal [a Babylonian god], following worthless idols.” (Jeremiah 2:8) “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” (Jeremiah 4:22)

Look at what Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day. “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8:19)

Religion in itself will not introduce you to God. In fact, it may take you away from God. It may help you to learn something about God, but it may also keep you from truly getting to personally know him. That is God’s deepest desire for us. Consider God’s words in Hebrews 8:11. Listen to the yearning in his heart. “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”

Nick, I mean no offence. I feel like you’re an honorable man and in your own way you’re a good man. But that’s not enough. Much of what you say comes from lack of knowledge of God, The Bible and his ways. It’s not enough to know something about God, Nick. You must KNOW God.

I wish you well, but more importantly I wish you Jesus!

This is God speaking, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

See a video of this message on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDufd0YBtpw

Look for new posts from The Mad Preacher on Saturdays. 

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Who Do You Trust?

by Rod Davis

TrustAnd without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

Before he became King of Late Night TV, Johnny Carson hosted a quiz show entitled, “Who Do You Trust?” that aired during the 1950s and 1960s. The idea was to ask the contestants, usually a man and a woman, a question but only one of them was allowed to answer. Johnny would offer the question to the man and then ask him, “Who do you trust, your partner or yourself?” The man was faced with a decision. “Do I trust my partner to answer correctly or shall I take a stab at it myself?”

Every relationship is based upon faith.

In Hebrews 11:6, the Greek word translated faith means “belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence).”1 The word that’s translated believe means “to place confidence in, to trust.” It signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon something or someone and not on mere credence. (2)

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (1Thessalonians 5:8)

Trust is a hard thing to give these days. It seems we have to always keep our guard up. We’ve learned to read the fine print. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a walking dollar sign. It’s become rare to be able go to the mall without someone accosting you in the parking lot with a sad story about his or her car breaking down or running out of gas, or they haven’t eaten in three days [Why is it always three days and not two or four…. Hum-m-m-m?!] and would I have a few dollars to spare.

A friend of mine told me about this: He said he saw one of those people who stand at the corner of a busy intersection with a “Need Help” sign, leave at the end of his day of begging and get into a beautiful new car. I wander how many times that seen is multiplied everyday across the USA?

I saw one of these rogues of the intersections with a sign that read, “Please help!” In addition he had a cute little dog on a leash that had a sign around his neck that said, “Even dogs need help sometimes.” The man was grinning from ear to ear and waving at people and sticking his bucket into the faces anyone who had the misfortune of being stopped by the traffic light.

I don’t mean to seem coldhearted. I’ve been known to feed someone who came up to me and said they we’re hungry. I’ve taken them to a drive-through and bought them a burger or something, but I learned to hard way to not give them money. So, there are those who have a sincere need. We just need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading on the occasions.

We’ve become a nation of cynics and unfortunately this spirit of distrust has crept into our churches and our homes. We don’t trust our kids or our spouse. We’re afraid of being let down by our friends, our family, our church, and … even God.

 If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31a)

As stated earlier every relationship is based on faith. Without faith/trust, there’s no chance of having a healthy relationship with anyone, especially with God. But understand this: How well we trust God reflects directly on how well we trust others. Therefore, it all boils down to one thing. It’s not our lack of trust of others that’s in question; it’s how well we trust God to guide and protect us in every situation.

 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1John 4:18)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. [this kind of] Love never fails. (1Corinthians 13:6-8a)

 Distrust is fathered by fear and fear is the offspring of an imperfect love. In Scripture trust and love are one and the same. Doesn’t it hurt when someone who says they love us, doesn’t trust us. I’ve found that the more we care for someone the sharper the pain. Considering the greatness of God love, how do you think He feels when we distrust Him?

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” — Jesus (Matthew 23:37)

Jesus personally knew the pain that distrust from a loved one can cause. Furthermore, he knew the heartache of the rejection that distrusts breeds. Why do so many Christians, who claim to have faith in God, have difficulty trusting Him? They worry about their money, about their children, about their spouses, their jobs, about their health, about terrorist’s attacks, the economy, and the list goes on and on. Seemly we don’t realize that worry is a sign of mistrust, for it is a lack of faith in the sovereignty and love of God.

 “Worry is giving praise to the Devil!” Pastor Roy Cantrell

Why do so many of us who sincerely love the LORD cast our faith aside when life kicks us in the stomach? Why do we give in to worry?

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. (Titus 1:16a)

 The answer to this question is very simple. God has placed within us, as He has with all creatures, a natural self-defense mechanism. Therefore, it’s very difficult for us to trust someone we don’t know. As a result, we worry because we don’t truly trust God, and we don’t trust God because we don’t really know Him.

 “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” — God (Isaiah 1:3)

 My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding.” — God           (Jeremiah 4:22a)

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. — Jesus (Matthew11:28)

Are you weary and burdened with the stress that comes from anxiety, fear, and doubt? Then please prayerfully consider this: Have you made a genuine commitment of your life to Christ? If that issue is not in question, then perhaps the problem is that your relationship with God has been little more than a casual acquaintance.

 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. — God (Jeremiah 29:13)

 Throughout the Bible God calls to us to come and know Him—to seek Him. Are you ready to release doubt and worry and step into an unshakable faith? Remember, every relationship is based on faith, on trust. Seek God with all your heart. Trust will soon follow as your relationship with Him grows.

 But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. (Jeremiah. 17:7)

 I know that the questions are real

And the fears that you feel are strong

Still my heart is longing for you to try me

Oh you’ve got to trust in me, love will bring you through…

If you trust in me

I will take your heartache

Trust in me

I will be your shelter

If you trust in me

I’ll set you free forever

All I ask is that you,

that you trust in me [3]

1 The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance – Classic Edition by James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. & John R. Kohlenberger, III

2 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

3 Trust In Me by Charles Billingsley from his album, Between the Now and Then Copyright/Label: Label: Pamplin